Luxury retail outlets are extensions of high-end brands, and no expense is spared when it comes to creating innovative architecture and a striking atmosphere. There are a few trends that many luxury retailers are embracing, seen in many new boutiques that have hit global shopping centres over the past couple of years. From an enhanced use of technology to the creation of a lifestyle “experience,” the following are a few of today’s most prevalent design trends in the luxury retail sector.

Using Natural Materials to Create Warmth

A longstanding design trend that shows no sign of going away is the use of warm, natural materials in retail spaces. Hardwood floors, stonework, and water features can bring a space to life and create the feeling of a refuge from ordinary life that sits particularly well with luxury brands. You can see this used in the organic curves and wooden surfaces of the Etxart and Panno boutique in Barcelona.

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Minimalism

For luxury brands, less is often more. This is particularly true if a brand is known for its architectural lines and clean design. In this case, the retail space should reflect the brand’s identity with a clean, minimalist design. Hardwood floors, sleek metallic surfaces, and allowing the products to retain the main focus can be a good combination for today’s luxury brands. One example of this is the new Alexander Wang boutique in Tokyo, which features a mix of raw concrete, floating shelving, and stark black and white décor.

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In-Store Technology

To compete with the convenience of online commerce, visiting a physical retail space should provide something special for consumers. One way to blur the lines between these two shopping experiences is the use of in-store technology. A good example of this is the Burberry flagship store in London, which features screens that transform into mirrors, the world’s largest retail screen, and hundreds of hidden speakers. The retail staff members conduct transactions with iPads, and clothing is embedded with microchips which show customers how the item looks on the catwalk. Live feeds to catwalk shows and in-store digital displays are becoming more commonplace as part of integrated high-tech design.

Lifestyle Branding

Some of today’s new boutiques serve more as an outlet for design rather than a retail space, to reflect the design aesthetic of the brand. One example of this is the new Intersect by Lexus outlet in Tokyo, billed as a “luxury lifestyle experience centre” rather than a typical automotive showroom. Click here for a detailed description of the concept, in which consumers can get the feeling of what Lexus stands for through non-automotive products. A café and exhibition space round out the experience.

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Tactile Surfaces

What better way to create a plush, inviting atmosphere than by using fabric to cover the interior surfaces? Many boutiques have long included ornate sitting areas, with soft carpeting and high quality furniture. Yet shops like Hublot in Istanbul are taking fusion design to a new level. This boutique has lined the walls with silk and the floors with wool, for a luxurious take on fusion design.

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Luxury brands that are stuck using the traditional idea of what constitutes a retail venue may get left behind. Today’s consumers expect a unique shopping experience, combining the convenience of digital technology and the grandeur of a luxury lifestyle.